We’ve made it, wrestling fans. We’ve zipped through Fastlane and avoided the Roadblock, taken the good with the booty, survived that month where Sheamus was champ – and we’ve finally arrived at WrestleMania.
OK, so it’s not actually happening until Sunday, but you can understand my enthusiasm –‘Mania is unquestionably the biggest event of the sports entertainment year, a blockbuster that truly has something for everyone. If you’re a sucker for spectacle, good news, the Undertaker will be making his annual epic entrance. For the pro graps purists, there’s Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn competing in the same match (albeit with five other dudes). And for those with a flair for the occasional wager, I’ve got good news: You can bet on WrestleMania.
Yes, even though WWE is scripted, there’s nothing stopping you from laying some money on the outcomes of the Sunday night’s matches. And before you scoff at the idea, just think back to Wrestlemania XXX, where Brock Lesnar went into his match against ‘Taker as a decided underdog, only to break both the Dead Man’s undefeated streak and the bank. So as we count down the hours until Sunday’s Super Bowl of Sports Entertainment, here are some last-minute bets that could have you tossing cash like Ted DiBiase.
Unless noted, all odds courtesy of the Bovada.lv Sportsbook.
Ryback vs. Kalisto for the U.S. Championship
This match had no real build – aside from Kalisto “upsetting” the Big Guy in last year’s World title tournament – and will probably end up on the WrestleMania preshow, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bet on it. WWE was able to catch lightning in a bottle with Kalisto, capitalizing on his crazy TLC spot and pushing him into the U.S. title picture. His acrobatic style has gotten him over with the younger set, and WWE seems determined to do everything they can to make him look good in this match, win or lose. If you tell me that Kalisto ends up scoop slamming Ryback at some point, I could certainly buy it (and probably bet on it, too). And yet, we all know how Vince McMahon feels about beefy dudes, and there are few beefier than Ryback, who has shown a vicious side – and some heelish tendencies – during his run to this match. The odds have Kalisto as a slight favorite at -150, but if you wanted to take a leap on Ryback as a value play at +110, I wouldn’t blame you. But in my eyes, this one will be about giving Kalisto a major moment as WWE attempts to make him a true superstar.
The bet: Kalisto (-120)
The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz
I’m still surprised these teams weren’t folded into a 4-Way for the Tag Team titles, though the recent run of strong mic work from the Dudleys – leaning heavily on a persona that is largely reminiscent of Cactus Jack’s heel work in ECW – has been a highlight of their otherwise mediocre return. While this probably isn’t the ‘Mania moment that the two were hoping for, it will be nice to see them at Mania for the first time in 12 years.
Bovada didn’t release odds for this one, and the few sites that have appear to be split on the favorite. Right now, you can get the Usos at -250, and the Dudleys at +165. In many cases, that would make D-Von and Bubba Ray a nice value play; however, regular gamblers are familiar with something called the “Smell Test,” wherein they look for a line that doesn’t make a lot of sense and bet accordingly, thinking that those who set the lines know better than the public. In this case I will lean on that principle.
The bet: The Usos (-250)
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
For the past two years, this is where gamblers have been able to clean up at WrestleMania. Last year, Big Show won at 12/1. The year before, Cesaro wasn’t even on the board and came away with the win. This year doesn’t seem to be quite as wide-open, thanks mainly to the rash of injuries on the roster. Quite frankly, it’s probably the Wyatt Family vs. everyone else, though it’s not leader Bray Wyatt who is the favorite…it’s Braun Strowman, at +125. Vince McMahon was rumored to be very high on the massive monster, though he’s supposedly tempered his enthusiasm in recent weeks, and thrown the outcome of this match back into doubt.
So will it be one of the so-called “surprise” entrants – like NXT’s Samoa Joe (+1000) or returning WWE stars Randy Orton (+800) or Cesaro – who wins the big dumb trophy? Maybe, though my money would be on another wild card: Mark Henry, a +600 bet, who is rumored to be retiring soon. Could he be rewarded for his service with a victory here? Maybe, but in a pinch, I’ll go with Bray. Dude doesn’t have anything else to do.
The bet: Bray Wyatt (+500)
The Total Divas vs. B.A.D. and Blonde
Like a lot of the matches on the ‘Mania card, wagering on the outcome of this tossed-together tag match – Brie Bella, Paige, Natalya, Alicia Fox and Eva Marie vs. Lana, Naomi, Tamina, Emma and Summer Rae – is about the only way to make it interesting. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any odds for this one, so, uh…let’s just go with Team Divas. Oh, and if there were a prop bet on first person to get booed out of the building, Eva would be a pretty solid choice.
The bet: The Total Divas
Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
It’s Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn versus everyone else (no disrespect to Zack Ryder). For reasons apparent only to them, WWE made this one a seven-man dance for the I.C. strap – perhaps it’s supposed to be one competitor for each continent? – throwing guys like Stardust, Sin Cara and, yes, Long Island Iced Z into the mix, along with perennial bridesmaid Dolph Ziggler and the always entertaining Miz. In theory, that should only gum up the proceedings, but I have a creeping suspicion not even Vince’s meddling can screw this one up. This may be the match of the night.
I’m saying that as a gambler, of course. Champion Kevin Owens is listed as the favorite at -200. Sami Zayn falls in next at +225. Ziggler is at +900, and everyone else +2000 or more. The question is this: Why is Zayn involved in this match? It seems rather nonsensical to call him up just to be stuck in a seven-man match at WrestleMania…especially given his longstanding feud with Owens. So maybe he’s supposed to take his title here – even if he doesn’t pin KO to do it. From there, let ’em battle over the belt until SummerSlam. Plus, at +225, those odds may be too good to pass up.
The bet: Sami Zayn (+225)
The New Day vs. The League of Nations
Even with a Hell in a Cell match, a Street Fight that might involve chainsaws and the aforementioned Ladder Match, the greatest WrestleMania moment may be the New Day’s entrance (please let there be flying unicorns). Since getting set loose as heels last year, Kofi, Big E and Xavier have been the most entertaining thing in WWE, and that was before they began hawking Booty-O’s. Shoot, they’ve even managed to get some heat on the ultra-bland League of Nations, currently +120 to New Day’s -160.
While I understand the line to an extent – since this is a non-title match – it’s difficult to see WWE not give New Day their ‘Mania moment, especially since they’re moving merch by the truckload. When in doubt, follow the money.
The bet: New Day (-160)
A.J. Styles vs. Chris Jericho
Who cares if they already did this match at Fastlane? Now that Jericho is heeling it up like the good old days, his rivalry with Styles has consistently delivered, and the thrill of seeing the indie stalwart finally compete on wrestling’s biggest stage will off the charts. Having said that, when it comes to wagering, this one’s a total bore: Styles is such a presumptive favorite that Bovada didn’t even put out a line for the match – and only a few oddsmakers have. Unless the Bullet Club shows up (!!!) and this one ends in a DQ, I don’t see that changing.
The bet: A.J. Styles
Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte for the Divas Championship
This is what we’ve been waiting for since the beginning of the “Divas Revolution,” a clear, coherent storyline involving three women who have motivations beyond general cattiness. Since Charlotte turned heel, everything has fallen into place at the top of the Divas division. When we realized that these three were headed toward a showdown at ‘Mania, people have been anticipating what could be the best women’s match in WWE history.
Sasha Banks is the favorite in this match at -300, followed by champion Charlotte at +140 and Bex at +500. The underdog role is one the Lass Kicker was born to play, and a win at WrestleMania would be the culmination of a story WWE’s been telling for months now…though it’s hard to shake the feeling this is Banks’ time. When in doubt, bet on the Boss.
The bet: Sasha Banks (-300)
Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose
Nobody has gained more from the build to WrestleMania than Dean Ambrose. He’s looked like a true main-eventer in his feuds with Lesnar and Triple H – even if he didn’t win the latter – and accordingly, he’s received a sizeable boost in TV time (and time on the mic). He’s been the featured player of this match, getting the vignettes with the hardcore legends, and he seems to be on the verge of something big. Then again, he’s taking on Brock Lesnar –the Beast, the Breaker of the Streak, etc. – and the oddsmakers certainly believed in his aura, installing him as the early favorite in this match.
But as the weeks wore on, and Ambrose main-evented Fastlane and Roadblock, then got screen time with Terry Funk and Mick Foley, the line began to shift back toward the Lunatic Fringe. As it stands now, this one’s a 50/50 proposition, with both men sitting at -120. So let’s go with Dean – you’ve gotta believe he’s being pushed for something.
The bet: Dean Ambrose (-120)
Roman Reigns vs. Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Last year, the main event saw one of the wildest swings in WrestleMania gambling. Roman Reigns started out as an incredibly heavy favorite, but once Brock Lesnar went on ESPN to announce he had re-signed with WWE, the line shifted dramatically, to the point where it was almost a coin-flip by the time ‘Mania rolled around. Of course, that action ended up being moot, as Seth Rollins cashed in during the match, thus voiding the bets.
This year is different. We’ve known for months that the plan was to have this be the crowning moment for Roman Reigns, no matter how loudly he gets booed. It’s difficult to see those plans changing – unless the Rock somehow gets involved, maybe even turning on RR. Or perhaps Triple H relies on the Authority to once again abscond with the belt. Whenever something seems like a foregone conclusion, the mind begins to cook up wild scenarios…and at the end of the night, Roman will still probably walk out of ‘Mania with the title. Like it or not.
The bet: Roman Reigns (-500)
Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker, Hell in a Cell
Yes, both these guys are old. And sure, we still have no real idea why ‘Taker is even fighting Shane McMahon, or any reason to believe the stipulations of the match – if Shane wins, he gets control of Raw; if UT is victorious, he gets to keep working for Vince McMahon (I think?) – will even matter. Toss all that out the window, because this one promises to be crazy. What will Shane throw himself off of? How long will ‘Taker’s entrance be? Who’s even the favorite here?
Well, as of right now, it’s ‘Taker is at -130 (Shane is at -110), and accordingly, you could convince me to bet on either side. But I keep coming back to one fact: If the Undertaker’s career was in jeopardy, wouldn’t that stipulation have been announced far earlier than it was? You want fans to have a chance to make travel plans to catch the Phenom’s final WrestleMania. And in a match that could go either way, that’s the insight you need,
The bet: The Undertaker (-130)